Expectancy & Equity Theories of Motivation
Study questions
Vroom's VIE (Expectancy) Theory of Motivation 


Although Edward Tolman and Kurt Lewin  conducted much of the original work on expectancy theory, Victor Vroom is usually credited with having applied the model to workplace motivation. This theory explains how people choose from among various options available, and posits that motivation is dependent on how much we want something and our likehood of getting it.

Effort to Perform Expectancy. This is a person's estimation of the probability that effort will lead to successful performance. This estimation or belief is likewise based on the confidence a person has in his/her own capacities to bring skills to bear and influence outcomes (e.g., self concept, self-efficacy, locus of control). These latter factors are an outgrowth of the nurturing, supporting, and developmental experiences a person has had that leads them to feel confident and competent both personally and in specific situations.

Performance to Outcome Expectancy. This refers to the person's perception of the probability that performance will lead to a specific outcome.

Outcomes and Valences. An outcome is whatever might result from a given performance. The valence of an outcome refers to the relative attractiveness or desirability (value) of that outcome to the individual. For example, extra work load, fatigue, overentended responsibilities may have negative valences, while recognition, promotion, or pay raise may be positive.

Some other links on Expectancy Theory

  • Outline and some examples of each step in the theory
  • Equity Theory
    J. S. Adams formulated equity theory of job motivation in 1963. It is based on the idea that people will develop comparisons with others ("referents") to help decide what is fair and reasonable in an exchange. We are also influenced by friends, colleagues, family, and other sources of facts and opinions in establishing these benchmarks. Our motivation is then exerted proportional to the degree to which we are receiving reward outputs equivalent to our effortful inputs. When outputs or rewards (salary, bonus, special treatment, etc.) are not equivalent, people become bitter and even disruptive, productivity and quality may be reduced, absenteeism may increase, and personnel may turnover.